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The Alaska Star encourages you to share important life events such as Births, Awards, Military advancements, graduations & scholarships, weddings, engagements. Use the above button to send us a notice, and please consider including a photo.


John E. Smelcer, of Chugiak, graduated from the Harpur College of Arts and Scicnes at Binghamton University in New York with a PHD in English. Binghamton is one of the four university centers of the State University of New York system.

Kairi K. Berg and Alexander V. Matson, of Eagle River, were each named to the Dean's list at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus for the 2011 spring semester. In order to make the list, students must have completed at least 12 credits with a minumum 3.66 grade point average.



McCain - Kalashnikov

Tabitha McCain, of Birchwood, will marry Vyacheslav (Slava) Kalashnikov in September. The couple met on Slava's birthday four years ago. They enjoy snowmachinging, four-wheeling, camping, fishing, dogs, travel and very big Dodge pick-ups.

The bride is the daughter of Randy and Gail McCain of Birchwood. The groom is the son of Alexandr Georgevich Kalashnikov and Tatyana Wert.

The couple lives in Anchorage.





Carson Lerch, 19, of Eagle River, graduated from basic training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) San Diego, Calif. on Aug. 12, 2011. Lerch, a 2010 graduate of Eagle River High School, will initially be stationed at Camp Pendleton in San Diego. He is the son of John and Lennett Lerch of Eagle River.

Air Force Reserve Airman Sarah A. Dirkes, of Eagle River, graduated from basic military training at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas.

Dirkes completed an intensive, eight-week program that included training in military discipline and studies, Air Force core values, physical fitness, and basic warfare principles and skills. Airmen who complete basic training earn four credits toward an associate in applied science degree through the Community College of the Air Force.

She is the daughter of Theodore and Leslie Dirkes of Eagle River and a 2010 graduate of the Alaska Military Youth Academy on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

Army National Guard Pvt. Jacob M. Bookbinder, of Chugiak, has graduated from basic infantry training at Fort Benning, Columbus, Ga.

During the nine weeks of training, Bookbinder received training in drill and ceremonies, weapons, map reading, tactics, military courtesy, military justice, physical fitness, first aid, and Army history, core values and traditions. Additional training included development of basic combat skills and battlefield operations and tactics, and experiencing use of various weapons and weapons defenses available to the infantry crewman.

He is the son of Matt and Susan Bookbinder of Chugiak.



Thomas - Cerney

Holly Thomas, of Chicago, Ill., will marry Matt Cerney of Chicago on Oct. 1, 2011 at Willow Harbor Vineyards in Three Oaks, Michigan.

The bride is the daughter of Sharon and Larry Thomas, past owners of the Eagle River Car Wash/Duck Pond. The family now lives in Wasilla.

Holly is a 1995 Chugiak High graduate and a 1999 graduate of the University of Oregon with a BA in Theater Arts. In 2007, she received her Master's degree in Informational/Library Science from Dominican University in Chicago. She currently works at DePaul University and Harper College in the Chicago area. She also works as a grant writer and actor for the Trapdoor Theater company, where she was most recently seen in "Me Too, I am Catherine Deneuve," which performed in Chicago, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C. At the request of the French embassy, the company will travel to France next year for a six-week run.

The groom is the son of Julie and Jim Cerney of Papillion, Neb. He is a 2000 graduate of Brownell-Talbot High in Omaha, and a 2004 graduate of the Illinois Institute of Technology with a BS in Materials Engineering. He works as a commodity trader in cattle options at the Chicago Board of Trade.

The couple was engaged on Dec. 14, 2010.